ABOUT THE REGION
For the purposes of this article, North Georgia includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Gordon, Murray, Walker and Whitfield counties
Trion and Heritage middle schools are the best places to send your children to learn in North Georgia, according to new accountability data released by the state.
On the College and Career Ready Performance Index, Trion Middle School scored a 93.6 out of 100. Heritage Middle School, located in Ringgold, scored a 93. Both are about 17 percentage points higher than the state average for middle schools.
Heritage Middle School Principal Chris Lusk credited the students' success to constant monitoring of every students' performance throughout the year. He also said teachers collaborate with each other more than they used to. The changes came after some self evaluation among the staff in 2015, when the school scored a 76.7 on the CCRPI scale — about 5 percentage points higher than the state average.
Lusk and other members of the staff began to work with leaders at Piney Grove Middle School in Cumming, Georgia, to figure out how to help students improve.
Soon, Heritage Middle School made a couple of tweaks. Officials made tests uniform for each subject, meaning sixth-grade math students received the same assessments, regardless of who their teachers were. Also, the teachers for each subject formed "data teams" that met every week.
The teams review how each student is doing on each assessment. When students across different class periods struggle in certain areas, Lusk said, the teachers collaborate on how they can help that group. Over several years, the teams of teachers have become better at working together.
"It's an evolution," Lusk said. "It can't happen overnight. You have to have that trust. You have to have relationships among the team. Then you begin to see the potential for improvement."
The CCRPI is a formula that assesses every public school in Georgia. It evaluates students and staff based on four categories: content mastery, progress, readiness and gaps closed among underserved groups of students, such as students who are learning English or children with disabilities.
For high schools, the CCRPI also takes into account graduation rates.
Across the state for all schools, the average on the CCRPI this year was 77.6. In North Georgia, the three best districts are Trion City Schools (88.8), Chickamauga City Schools (78) and Dade County Schools (77.8).
The lowest-performing districts this year are Chattooga County Schools (70.6), Murray County Schools (69.7) and Walker County Schools (67.1).
The average elementary school in the state scored a 77.8 this year.
The top-performing elementary schools in North Georgia were Trion Elementary (92.5), Fairyland Elementary (90.5) and Brookwood Elementary (89.2).
The three lowest-performing schools in the region were Red Bud Elementary (57.8), West Side Elementary (57.6) and Rossville Elementary (56.2). West Side Elementary is in Rossville, not to be confused with Westside Elementary in Rocky Face, which scored an 83.
The average middle school in the state scored a 76.2 this year.
In addition to Trion and Heritage middle schools, New Hope Middle School was a top performer, scoring an 86.9 this year.
The worst performers were Red Bud Middle School (63.6), LaFayette Middle School (63.1) and Rossville Middle School (62.5).
The average high school in the state scored a 75.3 this year.
The top-performing high schools were Gordon Lee High School (89), Ringgold High School (82.1) and Dalton High School (81.2).
The worst-performing high schools, not including specialty schools for remedial students, were Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School (69.7), LaFayette High School (66.3) and Ridgeland High School (65.7).
Of the specialty schools, Pleasant Valley Innovative School scored a 50.4, Morris Innovative High School scored a 41.8, Phoenix High School scored a 35.6, and Chattooga Academy scored a 28.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.